What We're Doing, What We're Reading - Dec. 6

Welcome to the first December installment of What We're Doing, What We're Reading at NECSN. 

Last week, Western New York Advocacy Manager Duncan Kirkwood talked with Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin about President-elect Trump's education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and what New York State charters are desperate for -- facilities funding for the schools that don't receive it, and funding equity. Capital Tonight is a statewide political news program which is watched by law and policy makers. Watch his interview by clicking the photo below. 


Our New York Director Andrea Rogers was also quoted in a Chalkbeat story on New York charters and their reaction to President-elect Trump's ed secretary nominee. She said, "It is clear Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos has a strong record of supporting charter schools, just like the appointees of other Democratic and Republican Presidents who came before her. Charter schools are a lifeline for children and as such they receive support among people from a range of political ideologies. We are glad to see another charter supporter take the reins and now are waiting along with the rest of the nation to see how that support translates from ideology into actionable policy." 

To read the story, click here. 

Speaking of New York charters, Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-IP, Syracuse) made a stop at Syracuse Academy of Science Charter Middle School recently and left a wonderful video statement about how great his visit was. He said the students were attentive, asked great questions, and that families are lucky to have this option in their city. 

Click the photo to watch! 



This past Saturday in New Haven, CT, the NAACP started its series of hearings on charter schools and their impact on communities of color.  It was the first of seven hearings planned across the country after the group passed a a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charter schools this past October. NECSN's Jeremiah Grace testified about CT families and their right to choose the best school for their children, saying in part, "This is not an either/or debate. In fact, this is a with/and situation in which black families should have the right to choose the school environment which will best serve the needs of their child… be that a district school, charter school, magnet, private or otherwise." 

IMG_0042.JPGJeremiah Grace, NECSN CT State Director, and Chris Harrington, CT Policy Manager

Dr. Steve Perry also spoke in support of charters, as did Tenicka Boyd of StudentsFirst. 

IMG_0040.JPGDr. Steve Perry, Founder of the Capital Preparatory Schools

Jeremiah Grace, Student Jermaine Smith of Capital Preparatory in Bridgeport, Tenicka Boyd of StudentsFirst

The New Haven Independent was one of a few papers that covered the hearing. To read their article, click here

To hear the four hours (!!) of testimony in its entirety click here. Jeremiah Grace speaks at 1:05 in. 

We want to send a shout out to the Aloma D. Johnson National Scholastic Chess Team who won their first Chess Team Trophy! The Aloma D. Johnson Eagles of Excellence is the first officially recognized National USCF Charter School Chess Team in the Buffalo Public School District.  


The team participated in the 2016 WNY Fall Chess Classic, a United States Chess Federation team event held on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at the Pioneer High School in Yorkshire NY.  There were close to 100 students who competed in five sanctioned games with four different sections.



And don't forget, our second annual Impact of Charter Schools panel discussion is TODAY at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport. You can still RSVP by visiting this link

This year, CT charters mark their 20th anniversary - a perfect time to take a introspective look at our successes and our challenges yesterday, today and tomorrow. In order for this dialogue to be the most effective, we need to hear from you!

This is an opportunity to engage parents, teachers, students, and advocates for an evening dedicated to addressing the growing educational needs of children and families. Registration is absolutely FREE.

Last week, we continued to call on the state of Connecticut to reject the dangerous proposal to cut $11 million from the state's charter school community. Parents, educators, and a student spoke about how harmful the cuts would be for their school at a press conference at Brass City Charter School (BCCS) in Waterbury on Tuesday.  


Parent Lisa Gordon Green talked about why these cuts would be so harmful to her own child, and many others across the state. You can read her powerful remarks here.

We're still asking for you to take action and oppose the proposed $11 million in cuts! 

These cuts would only make circumstances worse for charter schools, which are already severely underfunded. We must protect Connecticut's charter schools from damaging and dangerous budget proposals. 

Please tell the Governor and Education Commissioner to reject this proposal

You can see our statement on the cuts here.

And in New York, don't forget to contact me at jmokhiber@necharters.org to participate in our #CharterSchoolWishList social media campaign. Participating is easy -- just think about what your school could use if it was funded equitably, write it down on construction paper, snap a photo, send it in. We'll then post on our website and social media channels. Here's an example from last year.

wishlist_4.jpgAmber Charter School student

NECSN in the News

As we noted above Duncan Kirkwood sat down with Capital Tonight to talk about Betsy DeVos, charters, and what NY charters are desperate for -- funding equity. 

NYS Director Andrea Rogers talks about President-elect Trump's choice for education secretary, noting that most recent past Presidents have been supportive of school choice, and remains hopeful that continues to be the case.  

The Waterbury Republican-American covered the Brass City Charter School press event where educators, parents, and advocates called the plan to cut $11 million in CT charter funding "wrongheaded and irresponsible." WFSB and WTNH also covered the event. You can see their stories here and here

New York News

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. penned a great op-ed in the New York Post, calling on Mayor de Blasio to stop denying new charter schools space. 

Anne Williams-Isom, CEO of The Harlem Children's Zone, sat down with Black America to discuss the importance of supporting children in need. Black America is an in-depth conversation that explores what it means to be Black in America. The show profiles Black activists, academics, business leaders, sports figures, elected officials, artists and writers. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of "Between the World and Me", sat down with principals from New York City to talk about the role of public schools and his experience as a student in Baltimore. For more on their conversation click here

Connecticut News 

Great Oaks Bridgeport charter dad Jose Calle asks lawmakers to fund charters fairly in their upcoming legislative session, saying the $11 million proposal to cut funding would hurt Great Oaks and other schools across the state and would send children-- like his-- back to schools that weren't working for them. 
New Haven Minister Danny Bland writes about how too many of CT's students of color are not receiving the education they deserve and is calling on state lawmakers to develop "a fair and predictable education funding formula that delivers resources to communities and students that need them the most". 

Bad but not totally unsurprising news out of Bridgeport. Research done at North Carolina State University shows the city ranked highest in the nation for “family flight”, which means middle income families are fleeing it to find better schools.


Michael Strianese
Jessica is the Communications Director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network. She shares the charter school message and the stories of the real people who are a part of the movement with the press, member schools, parents, and the public.

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It was a busy week in both NY and CT! Check out What We're Doing, What We're Reading - Dec. 6!
What We're Doing, What We're Reading - Dec. 6
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